The story of Save the Family
Save the Family was founded in 1976 by Edna and George Speed. Edna was a head teacher in a nursery school on the Lache housing estate in Chester. It was here that she helped secure a minibus to help pupils travel to the school on a daily basis. She also set up a subsidised annual holiday for local families in need. However, meeting some of the families who lived on the estate, and working with them on a daily basis, she realised that a residential centre was necessary.
Plas Bellin in North Wales was identified as a possible site (see below). It was initially leased from the National Coal Board in 1985 with an option to buy. At the same time, the organisation was granted charitable status for the first time.
After 6 years of fundraising and hard work, Plas Bellin was opened in 1991 and the first families began arriving. In 1995, the site was purchased outright for £85,000. Further developments continued at the site over the next decade, including:
- In 1996 the opening of the Long Barn Cottages;
- In 1999 the establishment of a Children’s Centre;
- In 2001 a major renovation of the main house, which saw an Adult Training Centre established as part of the project;
- In 2002 the creation of an outdoor classroom and woodland trail;
- In 2004, the building of Morgan Mews Cottages;
- In 2006, the creation of Joan Boswell Hall.
In the intervening years, the charity was also presented with a house in Connah’s Quay, Flintshire. Named Sunraye, it was used to house single women until its closure in 2014.
In 2007, the charity took a major step forward when planning permission was granted in order to renovate a disused farm in rural Cheshire. After 4 years, in 2011, it was opened, with the aim of replicating the years of work at Plas Bellin and Sunraye. Notable additions to the site since include:
- A fully equipped sensory room, which was opened in 2013;
- The establishment of allotments in order to provide families with healthy and sustainable produce.
Today, Cotton Hall Farm is the main site of Save the Family. It has 32 self-contained units which house a number of families who are referred from across the UK, but who primarily come from the local areas of North Wales, Cheshire and the North West. The Joan Boswell Hall remains the base of Include Us Too, with the charity leasing Plas Bellin to a partner organisation undertaking similar services to Save the Family in Wales.
Edna retired from the Board of Trustees in 2012 and now has an honorary role as life president of the charity.